PhD POSITION Nature-based transitions: socio-economic and legal solutions for climate-robust, sustainable and productive sandy-soil landscapes

Updated: 28 days ago

We are looking for

Are you passionate about Dutch landscapes, and especially how we can safeguard their sustainability in the future? Are you a social scientist with a strong interest in how we can use insights from economics and law to reconcile conflicting objectives, and design policy interventions that facilitate a sustainability transformation?Are you excited about empirical methods and interdisciplinary collaboration? Then this PhD position is the perfect fit for you!

This 4-year fully funded PhD position is part of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) grant “Climate-production systems and water management” carried out in collaboration with several academic institutions and societal partners in the Netherlands.

Recent extreme weather events have clearly shown that intensive agricultural use, drainage-focused water management, and groundwater extraction endangers present and future agricultural production and environmental quality in Dutch sandy-soil landscapes. These are especially vulnerable as fresh-water supply is limited and soils drain fast. Hence, there is an urgent need for a radical paradigm shift to secure future socio-economic functioning of these landscapes.

The advertised position is part of a major, interdisciplinary research project that develops new propositions of a climate-robust and sustainable (i.e. circular) use of the sandy-soil landscapes of the Netherlands to future-proof their agricultural development and environmental quality. The PhD project will focus on the socio-economic and legal elements of this important theme.  Societal actors currently lack the incentives to transform to a climate-robust future, mostly because many landscape functions are valuable to society, but private individuals are not compensated for their provision. Insights on how the design of economic incentive and regulatory systems can unlock a transformation towards climate-robust production systems are urgently needed. Methods related to policy / economic experimentation are central to the work, though the disciplinary breadth of the project allows for flexibility regarding the methods to be used. The project is highly collaborative, using living field labs, and building on existing projects and through partnerships.

Your research project is a joint undertaking by the Environmental Economics and Natural Resources Group (ENR) and the LAW group (LAW) of Wageningen University.

We ask

We ask  
We are looking for an enthusiastic, curious, and creative candidate, preferably with

  • A master’s degree (MSc, Mphil, or LLM)  in economics, law, political sciences, environmental sciences or a related field
  • A keen interest to combine economic and legal perspectives of social-ecological systems
  • prior experience with, or demonstrable interest in, Dutch water and/or agricultural systems is an advantage
  • Excellent organizational, communicating and connecting skills;
  • Interest and ability for collaborating with scientists from other disciplines and stakeholders
  • A background in quantitative methods and statistical analysis;
  • Previous experience with one of the following: economic experiments, surveys, spatial modelling, participatory methods, stakeholder interaction, Living Labs, or other co-creative processes
  • Fluency in spoken and written English and Dutch are required.

We offer

You will receive a fully funded PhD (AIO) position, which will mean you will be employed by the Wageningen University. 

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment . A few highlights from our  Collective Labour Agreement include:

  •         study leave and partially paid parental leave;
  •         working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  •         the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  •         there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  •         a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  •         excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.541,- per month rising to € 3.247,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 17th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief , known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

More information

For more information about this function, please contact Andries Richter ( or Josephine van Zeben (

To apply, please upload the following documents online latest on 31 August via

  • Letter of motivation including brief outline of your research ideas related to the PhD project (max 2 pages)
  • CV
  • Names from op to three references
  • Lists of courses and grades for your masters and bachelors degrees.
  • Job interviews will be scheduled on

    09 of September 2022

    (7 and 8 of September are alternative dates). The starting date for this position is negotiable.

    Equal opportunities 

    Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

    We are

    Wageningen University & Research
    The mission of our University is to explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With approximately 30 locations, 7.200 employees, and 13.200 students, it is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.Wageningen University & Research.

    Environmental Economics and Natural Resources Group
    The ENR group is a vibrant community of PhDs and researchers at various stages in their careers. We aim to improve our understanding of local and global environmental problems, contributing from the environmental economics discipline to the construction of sustainable and circular economies, and low-carbon, climate resilient social-ecological systems. ENR methods and tools provide an in-depth understanding of what drives decision-making at multiple levels, offering key insights into the inevitable trade-offs faced by every decision or policy.

    The Law Group focusses on legal solutions to social problems, including those studied in life sciences domains. These issues touch on every aspect of the law, which means that we have collective expertise on matters relating to EU law, food law, environmental law, international law, WTO law, intellectual property law, private law and human rights law. The research of the group is strongly international and interdisciplinary, with faculty and students from all over the world.

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